The United States is the largest advertising market in the world.  In 2015, $180 billion was spent on advertising.  (This is more than double the amount that China spends, and they are ranked second!)  If you’re wondering why this industry dominates our great nation, it’s a simple answer: Advertisers make money off of our spending decisions.  Thinking back to the last time you made a purchase; what prompted that decision?  Was it an ad on the radio on the way to work, a Facebook post, or a billboard on the side of the road?  Our brain takes in over 4,000 messages to purchase per day, according to digital marketing experts.  Only a fraction of them actually grab our attention, but when compounded day after day, it can have the result that the advertiser is looking for – cash leaving your hands and into theirs.

Since advertising is a big part of our everyday lives and nearly impossible to avoid, here are two ways you can protect that hard-earned cash from disappearing.

  1. Practice delayed gratification.

Do not buy everything you want.  This concept is simple, yet it takes discipline to practice.  If you want to get smarter about how you spend your money, there are some questions to consider before buying:

  • If I wait, is there something better that I could purchase instead?
  • Will this purchase really benefit me down the road?
  • What is the true cost of this item?  Do I need insurance on it?

Even if you have the money for it, walk yourself through these questions to be sure it is a wise spending decision.

  1. Apply the 24 hour rule.  

Set a spending threshold, such as $100, and agree to wait 24 hours before purchasing any item that costs more than $100.  That time will allow you to evaluate just how important it is for you to have and remove the impulse-buying factor all together.  Don’t be fooled into the sales pressure tactics of passing up a good deal.  There will always be more deals.  After the 24-hour waiting period is over and you still feel it is a good buy, then go for it.  You will feel better knowing it was money well spent.  However, do not be surprised when most times you decide to not make the purchase.  Sticking to your budget is the best deal of all.

Putting these disciplines into practice is a part of being a wise spender.  Your savings account will thank you.

Want to learn more about getting your finances in order? Learn how to get started with a budget.

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